Release and Waiver of Liability

Last month, we wrote about releases and waivers of liability. In June, Florida's Fifth District Court of Appeals ruled on a similar issue in Hackett v. Grand Seas Resort Owner's Ass'n, 2012 Fl. App. LEXIS 10111 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012). In the Hackett case, a guest of the resort was injured while on the property of the association. In this case, Mr. Hackett suffered a personal injury when one of the legs of the chair he was sitting in collapsed.

Mr. Hackett had previously signed an agreement that stated that management will not be responsible for accidents or injury to the guest. Exculpatory clauses, such as the one described above aim to deny recovery for damages by an injured party for damages suffered by a person responsible in negligence for his or her injury. Exculpatory clauses are generally disfavored in Florida accident cases, and enforceable only to the extent that the intention to be relieved from liability is made clear and unequivocable.

In this case, the Fifth DCA held that the words "accident" and "management" are too ambiguous to have the exculpatory clause hold up, and the case was remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings on the issue of liability.

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